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Archive for the ‘Employment Law Blog – GA’ Category

Trump Has Opportunity to Appoint 4 Judges to Federal Bench in Georgia

Posted on: March 31st, 2017

By: Amanda M. Cash

While the national media is focused on President Trump’s appointees for positions such as Labor Secretary and the Supreme Court, Georgia employers may not realize that President Trump has the opportunity to make a direct impact on the Georgia legal scene.

There are several vacant positions on the Georgia federal bench that will likely be filled by President Trump’s nominees at some point in the future. As of March 31, the Northern District of Georgia has two vacancies, while the Middle and Southern District have one vacancy each. Like Supreme Court justices, the president nominates individuals to fill those open federal judgeships, subject to confirmation by the Senate.

Why does this matter to Georgia employers? In the unfortunate event your company is sued by a current or former employee for violations of federal employment laws, the case will likely be heard in federal court by federal judges.  Georgia employers should keep an eye on who is nominated to these vacant federal judgeships as these judges could be ruling on your case in the event you are sued by an employee. We will keep you updated as more information comes available about potential nominees. 

For any questions, please contact Amanda Cash at [email protected].

 

Eleventh Circuit Says No Title VII Protection For Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Posted on: March 17th, 2017

Image result for gender nonconformityBy Marty Heller and Amanda Hall

A split three judge panel from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that there is no Title VII protection for sexual orientation discrimination.  In Evans v. Georgia Regional Hosp. et al., Eleventh Circuit Judges William Pryor and Robin Rosenbaum, as well as District Judge Martinez, sitting by designation from the Southern District of Florida, addressed this issue for the first time on behalf of the Eleventh Circuit.  The majority opinion relied upon binding precedent from the previous Fifth Circuit in recognizing that a plaintiff may not state a claim for sex discrimination or gender stereotyping solely by alleging that they were treated differently due to their sexual orientation.

The concurrence and the dissent in this case show the divisions over this issue.  Judge Pryor concurred specially to address the arguments made by the dissent and the EEOC. In his concurrence, Judge Pryor noted the difference between a sexual orientation discrimination claim, which he reasoned cannot be brought under Title VII, and gender stereotyping or gender non-conformity claim, which he found is actionable.  Judge Pryor noted that a gender non-conformity claim “is, and always has been, behavior based.”  On the other hand, discrimination claims based upon sexual orientation, standing alone and not based upon actions or behavior of the plaintiff, are status-based, and “[s]tatus-based protections must stem from a separate doctrine or directly from the text of Title VII.”  Because sexual orientation is not identified as a protected class within the statute, Judge Pryor opined that it is not protected by Title VII, and that any such protection must come from Congress amending the statute, as opposed to the judiciary.

Judge Rosenbaum’s dissent argued that “discrimination against an employee solely because she fails to conform to the employer’s view that a woman should be sexually attracted to men only” is necessarily a claim for gender non-conformity.

Because the panel concluded that the plaintiff’s sexual orientation discrimination claims are barred by binding precedent, and binding Eleventh Circuit precedent may only be overruled by a subsequent opinion by either the full Eleventh Circuit (referred to as an en banc decision) or a decision of the Supreme Court, it is likely that the plaintiff in this case will seek to have this case reheard en banc.  Indeed, Judge Rosenbaum expressly urged the court to rehear this case en banc in her dissent.

Unless and until further action is taken, an employee in the Eleventh Circuit may not pursue a claim for discrimination based solely upon his or her sexual orientation.  Employers should continue to recognize, however, that gender stereotyping — based upon an employee’s behavior in acting (or failing to act) in accordance with gender norms — constitutes an actionable form of sex discrimination.

For more information, contact Mary Heller at [email protected] or Amanda Hall at [email protected].

Trump Nominates New Labor Secretary Nominee One Day After Puzder Drops Out

Posted on: February 16th, 2017

GTY-alexander-acosta-02-as-170216_31x13_1600By: Marty Heller

Donald Trump has named Florida International University Law School Dean, R. Alexander Acosta, as his new nominee for Secretary of Labor. Acosta is a Harvard Law graduate who clerked for Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito when he was an appeals court judge, and previously has served on the National Labor Relations Board and was an Assistant Attorney General under George W. Bush, before acting as US Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. It remains to be seen where Acosta stands on several key issues that await the new secretary of the DOL, including implementation of the currently enjoined “overtime rule” which substantially increases the minimum salary to qualify for the FLSA’s white collar exemptions. 

For any questions, please contact Marty Heller at [email protected].

Breaking News – Puzder Withdraws from Consideration to be Secretary of Labor

Posted on: February 15th, 2017

By: Paul H. Derrick

Andy Puzder, President Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Labor, has withdrawn his name from consideration after being plagued by criticism since his nomination. Union leaders and prominent Democrats have been among his staunchest critics. Puzder’s decision to step down comes a day before his Senate confirmation hearing was set to begin. Just hours before the announcement of his withdrawal, media outlets had begun reporting that Republican officials advised the White House that Puzder lacked the votes needed for confirmation because at least four GOP senators intended to break ranks and vote against him. It remains to be seen who President Trump will nominate in his place.

For any questions, please contact Paul Derrick at [email protected].

Be on the Lookout for Minimum Wage Increases in 2017

Posted on: December 20th, 2016

 By: Brad Adler and Agne Krutules

As we enter into 2017, employers should remember that, while the federal minimum wage remains at $7.25, many state and local jurisdictions have passed legislation that will increase their respective minimum wage in 2017.

Below is a list of the states and some of the major local governments that will be increasing their minimum wage in 2017. Of course, if you have employees working within any of these jurisdictions, it is important that you pay them in accordance with the state or local law.

Jurisdiction Current Min. Wage Planned Min. Wage Effective Date
Alaska $9.75 $9.80 January 1, 2017
Arizona $8.05 $10.00 January 1, 2017
City of Flagstaff, AZ $8.05 $12.00 January 1, 2017
Arkansas $8.00 $8.50 January 1, 2017
California* $10.00 $10.50 January 1, 2017*
Berkeley, CA $12.53 $13.75 October 1, 2017
Cupertino, CA $10.00 $12.00 January 1, 2017
Emeryville, CA $13.00 $14.00 July 1, 2017
Los Altos, CA $10.00 $10.50 January 1, 2017
Los Angeles, CA $10.50 $12.00 July 1, 2017
Los Angeles County, CA $10.50 $12.00 July 1, 2017
Mountain View, CA $11.00 $13.00 January 1, 2017
Oakland, CA $12.55 $12.86 January 1, 2017
Palo Alto, CA $11.00 $12.00 January 1, 2017
Pasadena, CA** $10.00 $10.50 July 1, 2017
Richmond, CA $11.52 $12.30 January 1, 2017
San Diego, CA $10.50 $11.50 January 1, 2017
San Francisco, CA $13.00 $14.00 July 1, 2017
San Jose, CA $10.30 $10.50 January 1, 2017
San Mateo, CA $10.00 $12.00 January 1, 2017
Santa Clara, CA $11.00 $11.10 January 1, 2017
Santa Monica, CA $10.50 $12.00 July 1, 2017
Sunnyvale, CA $11.00 $13.00 January 1, 2017
Colorado $8.31 $9.30 January 1, 2017
Connecticut $9.60 $10.10 January 1, 2017
District of Columbia $11.50 $12.50 July 1, 2017
 Florida $8.05 $8.10 January 1, 2017
Hawaii $8.50 $9.25 January 1, 2017
Chicago, IL $10.50 $11.00 July 1, 2017
Cook County, IL $8.25 $10.00 July 1, 2017
Johnson County, IA $9.15 $10.10 January 1, 2017
Polk County, IA $7.25 $8.75 April 1, 2017
Wapello County, IA $7.25 $8.20 January 1, 2017
Maine $7.50 $9.00 January 1, 2017
Portland, ME $10.10 $10.68 January 1, 2017
Maryland $8.75 $9.25 July 1, 2017
Montgomery County, MD $10.75 $11.50 July 1, 2017
Prince George County, MD $10.75 $11.50 October 1, 2017
Massachusetts $10.00 $11.00 January 1, 2017
Michigan $8.50 $8.90 January 1, 2017
Missouri $7.65 $7.70 January 1, 2017
Kansas City, MO*** $7.65 $9.82 January 1, 2017
Montana $8.05 $8.15 January 1, 2017
New Jersey $8.38 $8.44 January 1, 2017
Albuquerque, NM**** $8.75 $8.80 January 1, 2017
Bernalillo County, NM $8.65 $8.70 January 1, 2017
Las Cruces, NM $8.40 $9.20 January 1, 2017
New York***** $9.00 $9.70 December 31, 2016
New York City, NY****** $9.00 $11.00 December 31, 2016
Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties, NY $9.00 $10.00 December 31, 2016
Ohio $8.10 $8.15 January 1, 2017
Oregon******* $9.75 $10.25 July 1, 2017
South Dakota $8.55 $8.65 January 1, 2017
Vermont $9.60 $10.00 January 1, 2017
Washington******** $9.47 $11.00 January 1, 2017

 

* Although the statewide minimum wage will increase from $10.00 to $10.50 as of January 1, 2017, employers with 25 or fewer employees will receive a one-year reprieve and will not face the statewide increase in 2017.

** In Pasadena, employers with 25 or fewer employees will face a minimum wage increase to $10.50 as of July 1, 2017, while larger employers will face an increase from $10.50 to $12.00 as of the same date.

*** The Kansas City minimum wage was slated to increase to $9.82 on January 1, 2017, but is stalled due to pending court challenges. The Missouri Supreme Court is expected to soon rule on the issue. The same holds true for the St. Louis minimum wage, which was scheduled to increase to $10.00 as of January 1, 2017.

**** However, if the employer provides healthcare and/or childcare benefits to the employee during any pay period and pays an amount for these benefits equal to or in excess of an annualized cost of $2,500, the minimum wage will increase from $7.75 to $7.80.

***** For fast-food employers outside of New York City, the minimum wage will increase from $9.75 to $10.75 on December 31, 2016.

****** For businesses with less than 11 employees, the minimum wage will increase from $9.00 to $10.50. For fast-food establishments in New York City, the minimum wage will increase from $10.50 to $12.00 on December 31, 2016.

******* For employers within the state’s Urban Growth Boundary, the minimum wage increase on July 1, 2017 will be from $9.75 to $11.25. For employers in frontier counties, the minimum wage increase on July 1, 2017 will be from $9.50 to $10.00 per hour.

******** Seattle employers with 500 or more employees will see an increase in their minimum wage from $13.00 to $15.00 on January 1, 2017. The SeaTac minimum wage applicable for hospitality and transportation workers will increase from $15.24 to $15.35 as of January 1, 2017. In Tacoma, the minimum wage will increase from $10.35 to $11.15.

The minimum wage for federal contractors covered by those regulations and Executive Order 13658 (primarily those with Davis-Bacon Act and Service Contract Act contracts) will increase from $10.15 to $10.20 effective January 1, 2017.